Haps Again – Montbretia Hap

I knitted Montbretia at top speed, so that’s why I am blogging about it about as slowly as I possibly can (any excuse). This was the first Hap I made from the Book of Haps. I was drawn to Montbretia mainly because of the unusual construction and shape; lots of short rows and bobbles, interchanging garter and stocking stitch, more than one colour – these are all things I like quite a lot. Also welts, an entirely new thing to me which I now want to incorporate into all the knitted things.  I realised I had stash yarn that would do the job perfectly for this – I love my stash, but it is there to be knit with, after all…so in I dived.

I came out with some white 4 ply, some MadeleineTosh Tosh Merino Light in Cousteau – a dark sea green, just beautiful, and two packs of mini skeins of Knitting Goddess sock yarn; one in oranges and one in dark green/blues (rather like the Tosh, a happy accident).

I cast on for a ‘Medium’ of this hap knowing my gauge was a little tighter than the pattern (I got 24st&36r/10cm) and I would get a slightly smaller hap because of this. It’s width is about 140 cm rather than 144. It sits nicely over the shoulders for when it’s just a bit chilly, or I can wrap it and knot loosely at the back of the neck if I’m cycling (because, by the time you’ve got to the top of Divinity Road in Oxford you don’t need a big scarf on, even in the depths of winter).

It began – appropriately – looking slightly foetal, and carried on like that for a while:


The first welt (in the picture above on the right) was a bit messy, I hadn’t knit it tight enough at all, but I managed to fix that with a bit of sewing in on the back when I finished, and blocking helped hugely.

The most fun part was the bobbles! I loved doing these, once I’d got the hang of them (it’s been at least 12 years since I did a bobble) they flew by:

It was finished in eleven days. Eleven! This is a record for me for a thing that’s not supposed to be tiny to start with. I got it on the bed for a good blocking:


And think it’s splendid. I really do like this unusual shape. I’d like make a really huge one of these which I think would look brilliant draped longways along the back of a sofa. But for now, here I am wearing it in baking hot July:





Haps Are Happening – Nut Hap

I like deadlines, not in the way Douglas Adams did, with the ‘whooshing sound they make as they fly by’ but because I really am so liable to go bimbling off on a tangent, doing something I shouldn’t really be doing,  that a deadline is a good point to concentrate on. I very rarely miss a deadline (I feel quite mortified if I do).

The deadline for the Haps Are Happening KAL – run by Jen Arnall-Culliford and ‘Veuve Tricot’  for the Kate Davies Book of Haps – was 8th August 2016. I looked at the timescale and thought that was a totally do-able schedule and,  to my surprise, I managed to produce not one but two haps during this KAL (though I did put aside all other knitting – poor old Stonehenge – what did I say about going off on a tangent…?).

I’m going to talk about my second Hap first – the Nut Hap;  a completely brilliant piece of knitting design and engineering by Jen, which includes really concentrate-y stuff; you need two super long needles, it has a tubular cast on! it has K1P1 rib with short rows, it has tucks, it has five colours, and you have to graft it at the end The challenging bits are interspersed with nice television friendly easy knitting (in this case the television was Being Human – the first two seasons are the best, IMO).  I like this kind of thing – you get to use your brain and then rest it for a bit.

So it went a bit like this (look! I have done you graph…). The bit where the stitches supposedly being HELD BY the back needle FELL OFF the back needle was my favourite part:


I posted a lot of pictures of my knee and my knitting on Ravelry and Instagram, which made a quite pleasing sequence.:

I finished with one day to spare – though I confess when the finished photos were taken this Nut Hap may have still been slightly damp. It’s also a rather warm accessory for an August modelling session.  I’m really looking forward to wearing it on a European or Canadian mountain in the winter and if I think about this enough maybe it’ll actually happen.

[ an aside – notice how the cat is barely able to feign interest in this Hap, when I hear of other people’s cats they seem much more interested in the knitting than Boris is].

An idea given to the Nut Hap knitters – the original pattern has its colours based on those of the nut hatch –  was to choose a different bird for inspiration . Just a couple of days before the KAL started I happened upon a news story about the Red Faced Liocichla. This bird was though to be locally extinct in Eastern Nepal (it hadn’t been seen for 178 years) but has recently been found alive and well, and apparently breeding – such lovely news when we’re losing so much every day. So I chose this bird for my colour inspiration:

These bright colours will be a boost in the winter, when this Hap will come into its own. I knitted it in Cascade 220 Sport Superwash, which is a light worsted 100% yarn; super warm and yet not super heavy, and comes in about a bazillion colours. I really love this yarn – I made a jumper for my husband with it last year – it washes brilliantly with hardly any colour bleed. Also it looks really good draped casually over my favourite turquoise garden chair:


Next time (or next time but one, I haven’t decided yet) the marvellous Montbretia Hap!


Over the Sea…

I went to Skye a little more than a decade ago, it is an enchanting,  magical place (I think probably more magical than Tahiti, S.H.I.E.L.D. fans!).  It’s so magical in fact that one of my very best friends (the Quilter) and her family decided to up sticks and go and live there permanently. We said ‘Cheerio’ last week (‘cheerio’, as another friend noted, being so much less final than goodbye) and now they are there, posting envy making photographs on Facebook and settling in.

So much change all at once, what with the Current Situation (as I’ve started having to refer to all the post referendum events) it was an emotional parting. I will miss them very much, but – what with the magic,  and the cooked breakfasts we’ve been promised, and the Shilasdair shop – I expect we’ll be up for a visit soon.

What do you give a person who’s just bought a lovely B&B with a swimming pool and a bit of beach of its own on a beautiful island, as a going away present? Knitting of course.

It’s always a joy to give a handmade gift to another maker, they ‘get it’ (not that non makers don’t, though I’ve had a few frozen grin oh that’s nice moments in my knitting career). Since she’s gone to Scotland that knitting had to be in some way Scottish, so inevitably I cast on for a Hap. This was before The Book of Haps came out (more on that particular rabbit hole another day) so I  chose the Northmavine Hap from Colours of Shetland, but in colours of Skye.

This (below) is the Old Man of Storr, a particularly fine pinnacle of rock don’t you think? When I was on Skye in 2005 I went to an amazing installation by NVA, who create their own magic with light, and I have to say it cast a proper spell on me. But what I’m really interested in here is the grass. I remembered Skye as being really quite green, and I wanted to incorporate that feeling into the hap:

Old Man of Storr

Old Man Of Storr (image: kineticphotos.co.uk)

Also the beaches (and yes, more grass) of white sands strewn with seaweed at the tide line:

Claigan coral beach

image: theskyeguide.com

And for some reason pink and purple sprang into my head. I thought I must have been remembering heather, but perhaps I was actually remembering this little row of cottages:

skye houses

Image: seethehighlands.com

I had my colour scheme, and now I needed to choose the yarn. I settled on:

  • Jamieson and Smith Shetland jumper weight for the greens (since I haven’t been to the Shilasdair shop yet!) as it is Scottish.
  • Touch Possum Silk Merino which actually belongs to the recipient of this hap. It was brought from NZ by her sister-in-law a while back (I still have enough to knit another item). It’s really hairy and has really no stitch definition whatsoever which makes choosing patterns difficult, but I thought it would work in this as the tide line seaweed element.
  • Rowan Rowanspun 4 ply, as we’re both from Yorkshire, for the pink and purple
  • Some white BFL, handspun by me, for the white sand.

This is a lovely pattern with a great rhythm, it’s the second time I’ve made it and it just bowled along. As I hoped the hairy possum yarn worked really well when used in stripes:

Northmavine corner

I did all the repeats on this occasion (I missed the last repeat on my first one, as I wanted a smaller hap) so it can be wrapped round the body like a dancers wrap, in the traditional Hap manner:


Here’s the wingspan, on me in a garden in Oxfordshire:


I handed this gift over on the day after the EU Referendum (as mentioned above) when we were already feeling rather emotional and overwrought, and there may have been a small weep from both the giver and the recipient. I hope it warms her in the Scottish winter and reminds her of us, though I’m fairly sure I can easily fly to Inverness from quite nearby, and hire a car, and enjoy that cooked breakfast, to remind her myself…